U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awards contract for Jackson Park restoration

Staff Writer

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has awarded a contract for its 139-acre, five-year restoration of native habitats in Jackson Park.

The USACE has chosen West Dundee, Ill.-based Applied Ecological Services (AES) to restore Jackson Park according to its plans. So far, it has awarded AES a $4 million base contract for work on the park’s north half and invasive tree removal throughout. The project’s more than 70 additional planned improvements — such as plantings — will be made gradually “as they make sense,” according to USACE ecosystem planner Frank Veraldi.

“And we can do that up to about a point of 12 million, once we hit that ceiling,” Veraldi said.

In total, the project will have access to $12,375,000 in funds, with a 65 percent coming from the federal government’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the rest from the project’s non-federal sponsor, the Chicago Park District (CPD). Project 120, a non-profit organization seeking to fund a $10 million visitor’s center to the park, will be contributing $700,000 to CPD’s share.

The USACE’s restoration has been divided into four areas of priority, beginning on its north end, including the East and West lagoons, followed by the Jackson Park Harbor, golf course and the peninsula La Rabida Children’s Hospital sits on.

Veraldi said the restoration project is likely to have at least one subcontractor, and that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources would likely perform the planned poisoning and removal of fish from the Jackson Park lagoon.

The USACE project was advertised to contractors as costing between 5- and 10-million dollars. Several companies attended a pre-bid meeting in September, according to Veraldi, but only two companies submitted a bid for the project: AES and Pizzo and Associates. After reviewing their qualifications, he said, USACE picked the company with the lowest bid.

The Jackson Park restoration will involve grading, demolition and invasive species removal in its first year, followed by a focus on planting in the last four years, Veraldi said. He said he doesn’t yet know when work will begin, although he expects it will be in late winter and hopes all tree and fish removal will be done by February.

“If they get out there in late fall that’d be a miracle,” Veraldi said.